Type 6 – The Enneagram Loyal Realist


Nine Ways of Relating in Life

If you believe that this world is just not predictable and you want to be prepared for what the day might bring:  If you like to take some time to check people out before inviting them into your friendship fold or you are the type that tends to ask many questions or serve as the devil’s advocate because you can see the pitfalls in any plan, then follow along to learn more about the drive of Type Six, the Enneagram Loyal Realist and how that can play out in our lives.

Remember that we all have a bit of every type in us so it is valuable to explore how each type fits into our own way of being.

Type Six can be called the Loyalist, the Questioner, the Skeptic, the Devil’s Advocate or the Guardian.  They like to call themselves a Realist when others suggest they are a pessimist.  They are called the Loyalist by Enneagram authors because Sixes are the most loyal to their friends and their beliefs. They will hang on to relationships longer than most other types. They will fight for their beliefs more than themselves and defend their community or family more tenaciously than they will defend themselves. The underlying fear is one of not believing they have support or guidance so they rely on trusted others, structures and support outside themselves for these.  They have great inner guidance however they second guess themselves and do not trust their own thinking and judgments.  They can over think issues and worry about many life issues.  This can result in difficulty in making big decisions though they for sure do not want others making the decisions for them. There can be a steady presence of anxiousness within Type Six and a constant striving to ease this feeling.  Many will talk about having a Plan A, a Plan B and likely a Plan C for many occasions just to be prepared!

One of my favourite bosses was a Type Six that I discerned very early in my post and he would constantly check up on my work and question what I was doing.  I do not work well in that environment so I decided to present him with my weekly plan on Monday mornings and follow it up with a summary report on Friday’s.  He quickly learned to trust me and he always supported me in every way possible. His kindness and generosity was very special and I feel lucky to have worked for him.

“A characteristic “fingerprint” of Sixes is the fact that they are a bundle of opposites. They are both strong and weak, fearful and courageous, trusting and distrusting, defenders and provokers, aggressive and passive, thinkers and doers, group people and soloists, believers and doubters and on and on. When they learn to face their anxieties however, Sixes understand that although the world is always changing and is by nature uncertain, they can be serene and courageous in any circumstance.”  Taken from The Wisdom of the Enneagram book by Riso/Hudson.

Sixes at their best in a relationship are warm, playful, open, loyal, supportive, witty, honest, fair and reliable.  Sixes at their worst in a relationship are suspicious, controlling, inflexible and sarcastic.  They either withdraw or put on a tough act when threatened.

Practical suggestions for Type Six:

  • Become conscious of your habit of doubting, so that you can choose to transform it by developing faith and courage.
  • Do something practical or creative that you find absorbing, such as painting, pottery, sculpting, gardening, building and so on.
  • Lighten up by going to funny films and spending time with entertaining friends.
  • When someone gives you a compliment, resist your first impulse to reject it and learn to hear what people value about you.
  • Talk to yourself like a friend. Do not berate yourself for “mistakes” and treat yourself with the same kindness that you show to others. Remember you need to be good to yourselves too.
  • Try to make decisions without asking others for their advice. Remind yourself, if it’s the wrong decision, it’s not the end of the world.
  • Take part in a regular, heart pumping sport or other physical activity to disperse the adrenalin in your bloodstream that the anxiety creates.
  • When fear is overwhelming, drop the attention to the breathe in the belly, feel your body and your feet on the ground, then become aware of your heart and feelings.  The chatter in your head will become more quiet.

Famous Sixes:

Princess Diana,  Tom Hanks, Julia Roberts,  Richard Nixon, Mel Gibson, Robert Kennedy, Bruce Springsteen, Ellen DeGeneres, Jay Leno, Jack Lemmon, Meg Ryan, Michelle Pfeiffer

How about you? Do you know any Type 6s or perhaps you are a Type 6 yourself! I love getting feedback. And here on my blog, you’ll get commentluv. This is a plug-in that allows you to leave a link back to your own site when you leave feedback.

Until next time,


4 replies
  1. H. says:

    Hi Karen, I am enjoying your blog! I have done numerous tests to figure out my Enneagram type, many of which come back with a nine, but I think that I might be a Six (or perhaps a One). Do you have any suggestions for figuring this out? I am looking into your workshops as well, if you still do them. Thanks!

    • Karen Armstrong says:

      Hello and thanks for checking in! No matter how excellent the online assessments are, they never can account for the intuitive knowing that comes as you read and notice your natural habits. How does this paragraph fit?
      Until they can get in touch with their own inner guidance, Sixes are like a ping-pong ball that is constantly shuttling back and forth between whatever influence is hitting the hardest in any given moment. Because of this reactivity, no matter what we say about Sixes, the opposite is often also as true. They are both strong and weak, fearful and courageous, trusting and distrusting, defenders and provokers, sweet and sour, aggressive and passive, bullies and weaklings, on the defensive and on the offensive, thinkers and doers, group people and soloists, believers and doubters, cooperative and obstructionistic, tender and mean, generous and petty—and on and on. It is the contradictory picture that is the characteristic “fingerprint” of Sixes, the fact that they are a bundle of opposites.
      The biggest problem for Sixes is that they try to build safety in the environment without resolving their own emotional insecurities. When they learn to face their anxieties, however, Sixes understand that although the world is always changing and is, by nature uncertain, they can be serene and courageous in any circumstance. And they can attain the greatest gift of all, a sense of peace with themselves despite the uncertainties of life. Taken from p. 235-236 of The Wisdom of the Enneagram.
      I will be setting my workshop schedule in the next couple of weeks – shall I add you to my newsletter?

  2. Ann says:

    Hi Karen. Great site. I’m a big fan of the personality typing system and it’s been life changing for me. Appreciate your writing style!


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